The Educational Garden sports a working composting system! Bin One: add “greens” and “browns” until they semi-break down. Move to Bin Two, where further decomposition happens. Move contents to Bin Three, your finished compost!Composting is a natural process where organic materials decompose and are recycled into a dark, crumbly, earthy smelling soil conditioner known as “compost”. Examples of “greens” –kitchen scraps (never animal products!) –garden clippings (weeds go in the trash, not the compost!) Examples of “brown” –shredded newspaper –dried leaves Composting happens when organisms in the soil break down or decompose the organic material. The dark, rich crumbly material that results is compost. The benefits to using compost: By incorporating compost into the top 4 to 6 inches of the soil, the structure and texture of the soil is improved: a crumbly substance like compost is often just what soils need to improve its “workability”. Garden soil should ideally have 3-5% organic matter. Compost can meet this need, for all soil textures. Incorporating compost can improve soil aeration which is important for plant roots. Air space in soil stimulates healthy root development. In clay soils, compost can help improve soil drainage. Anyone that has clay soils knows that they are very slow to drain. On the other hand, compost acts as a sponge holding on to water and nutrients (from fertilizers), decreasing the need for watering and repeated fertilizing. This can be a benefit in sandy soils that drain and dry out very quickly. The organic matter in compost sustains the many micro-organisms we reviewed in the soil web. In turn, the microbes convert organic matter into nitrogen and other nutrients that the plant can easily assimilate. It’s important to remember that although compost has small amounts of nutrients that are released slowly throughout the growing season, compost is primarily considered a soil conditioner, rather then a fertilizer.